Loneliness - Moving On

by Andrew Foote

Chapter 11

With nothing much to get us out of bed early, we put to rest a bottle of wine. We played card games as we listened to Radio Luxemburg, it seemed as if the carefree times of summer had returned with neither of us seemly ill at ease.

One of the College clocks struck midnight as we drained our glasses and went to bed, the hours that followed filled with making love together until we could make love no more, finally drifting off to sleep in each other's arms.

The adoration I felt for Jus knew no bounds. I was totally in love with him, my entire being revolved around him and as I lay there, still wrapped in his embrace, for the second time in my life I found myself silently talking to that unseen entity they call God.

"This can't be for real can it? I mean to be blessed with such a wonderful person in my life? Look at him, he's perfect in just about every possible way and to think he loves me back is something I find so very hard to believe.

I'm nothing by comparison, just normally boring and unattractive whereas Jus is beautiful, sexy and…… fantastic!

Whoever you are, thank you!

Why you've seen it right to give him to me I'll never know but I owe you big time!" and with that the lights went out as I fell asleep.

For the second time in as many weeks Jus was up and about before me. Tea was brought to me in bed together with boiled eggs and bread and butter, Jus not thinking to cut the bread into fingers but the thought was nice.

"You were restless last night? God only knows what you were saying but you certainly gave some voice to it!"

"I'm sorry. I can't control what I do in my sleep. Did I really disturb you?"

"Not so much. It was almost as if you were answering questions. There would be a pause then you'd rattle off something completely incoherent, pause and off you'd go again.

No recollections then?"

"No, nothing. I remember my thoughts before I went to sleep last night, that might've set something off but otherwise? I haven't a clue!"

"No problem then.

The PT boat came in about an hour ago, that's what woke me so might I suggest you eat up and get showered before we have visitors? I think it likely we'll be updated pretty soon."

Dutifully I did as I was told and as Jus had predicted, we got a knock on the roof some thirty minutes later. DCI Lockwood, Commander Armstrong and Peter stepped aboard.

Commander Armstrong and Jus hung back while I showed our other visitors through the engine room into the main cabin, obviously they had things to talk about that didn't necessarily concern the rest of us.

I made a very large pot of coffee and exchanged small-talk until they made their way through to join us and once we were seated, DCI Lockwood spoke.

"Okay then.

This I know is unnecessary after everything that you boys have witnessed over the last few weeks but none the less I have to remind you to keep everything I or others tell you completely to yourselves. In fact I'd rather your families were not told but that of course is impossible given your ages so where to begin?

Ever since you were cut adrift we have been working hard to understand who might wish to do such a thing. We can speculate but without hard evidence our hands are tied in as much as we can't go throwing our weight around and besides it might be counter-productive and cause those responsible to go to ground until the dust's settled. Our best option was to call on our Ghurkha friends who know you and are aware of your situation, to look after you, monitor your movements, see if another attempt on your lives was made and intervene as necessary.

We all know it did up there on Balmore Hill and suspects were arrested and are in custody as we speak. Both of them have admitted firearm offences and charges of attempted murder but, and this is crucial, not who the paymaster was. We needed that information if we were to be able to guarantee your safety.

This last episode has given us our answer.

Yesterday a cruiser was hijacked, a boat by the name of 'Ship Happens', ironic perhaps given the circumstances. She had a tender called 'Piece of Ship' but I digress.

She was taken from a mooring not that far from here, the owner and his wife were on board in order to celebrate the New Year and to put it mildly, were surprised when a group of men, armed to the teeth, boarded their vessel and had them take their boat down the Thames where they met up with you.

An ensuing exchange of gunfire took place and the SBS rammed the offending boat sinking it in ten feet of water. All occupants of said boat were subsequently rescued, nine in all and all bar two of them were taken into custody. The owner and his wife being the exception of course, pretty pissed off about the sinking of their pride and joy but happy enough with the compensation they're likely to receive through the courts plus their insurance pay-out.

Now for the clincher.

On board that boat was the person we believed to be responsible for organising all the attempts on your lives.

We can only guess he became frustrated by two failed attempts and saw fit to head the third.

Justin? He is the father of the boy facing charges of various kinds regarding that episode at Down House.

He and all those arrested are being held on charges of Theft of this boat and also Firearm's charges and also, because those weapons were used, attempted murder heads the list. They go to Magistrates Court this morning and will doubtless have their solicitors apply for bail but given the severity of the charges against them, no Magistrate on the planet would grant such a request.

Further to that, Kent Police conducted a dawn raid on both the house and business premises of our friend and this because there is strong evidence linking him to supplying weaponry to Irish terror groups, a can of worms doesn't come close. MI5, MI6, Counter Terrorism Units, us, you name it, we are all hard at work. You think you're alone? Think twice. There are hundreds of people working on this and all because of that first incident when you were cut loose."

Jus looked at him before speaking.

"So what's the next move? We have business to open the day after tomorrow and if we're cooped up here we're stuffed.

I know I speak for both of us when I say how grateful we are to everyone concerned, to still be alive even but we have to press on don't we?"

"That shows a very mature attitude Justin and yes, of course you must do precisely that but under our protection. We will provide transportation to and from your facility in Mapledurham and during your time there you will be watched.

Are you happy with that?"

Jus looked at me, I nodded my approval.

"Yes thank you. I think we both need a semblance of normality now."

"Fine. We go ahead on that basis.

I believe Commander Armstrong wants to talk to you now so I'll leave it that you'll be collected next Monday morning at around seven?

How well do you trust you staff?"

Again Jus looked at me but I let him carry on.

"Implicitly I think is the right word. As much as anything else we regard them as friends.

Why do you ask?"

"Well I might be getting paranoid in my old age but it just seems as if someone is constantly one step ahead of us. Which boat to cut lose, your regular visits to Balmore Woods, the fact that they knew we'd be heading in the direction of Oxford rather than going east. It doesn't smell right somehow. I'm not suggesting any of your staff are implicated but I think running a background check on them might be a wise move."

I thought for a moment before answering him.

"It seems inconceivable that any of them would want to see us dead. I mean we know them so well but if it helps I'll give you names and addresses right now but on the understanding that any checks you make are done without their knowledge."

"Don't worry about that. We just do a CRB check on them, their parents and associates to make sure there are no links to any criminal organisations. We can do this very quickly and it would be good to have it done and dusted before you reopen your facility on Monday morning."

I found paper and pen then wrote down all the names and addresses of the guys who worked alongside us and handed it to Peter and as he left the boat so Commander Armstrong knocked on the hatch.

Jus let him in.

"Good morning boys.

I thought you should be made aware that we took seven men into custody yesterday following the, err, unfortunate episode on the river. The police are holding them on firearm's charges and they're due to appear at Magistrate's Court later this morning. There is no reason to suspect that they will not be held in custody pending an appearance at Crown Court as these charges are very serious as they not only include possession but also discharging their weapons as therefore I am told that possible charges of attempted murder are likely to follow.

Okay so far?"

Jus asked the obvious question.

"Yes but we both saw nine people in the river but only seven have been arrested. What happened to the other two?"

"They were the owners of the boat. Their boat was hijacked at gun point, they're not under investigation Justin."

"So do you know who these thugs were?"

"Yes but I'm not at liberty to comment. I'll have to leave that to the police. They're aboard the PT as we speak. I've already given a statement and now my men are doing the same then it will be your turn, okay?"

I begged the next question.

"Are we allowed to wander around? We've got four dogs with us and they need exercising."

"Yes by all means make yourselves at home as best you can and if you will allow me, I'll make it so you can leave this base, come and go as you wish as you'll be under surveillance at all times.

This is how it works. I'll mark you foreheads with a special marker. As you leave or enter this facility you'll be scanned by a UV lamp which will pick up the marker and that together with you photographs will allow you entry.

Crude but very effective."

"What happens if we get caught in a rain shower? Won't it wash off?"

"No amount of soap and water will budge it. There's a special fluid we use to do that. Just carry on as usual and you'll be fine."

He unzipped a pocket in his tunic and produced what looked like a fountain pen and leaning forward he placed it on Jus's forehead then did the same to me.

"Right. You're all set.

Once you've given statements to the police you can do as you wish.

I'll be off now. Let's hope for a result that will end this sorry affair once and for all and Justin? I'll try not to be so much of a stranger in the future. We're a bad family in that regard!"

"That would be good Uncle. Thank you for everything."

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